Monday, July 14, 2008

More Gardasil Woes

From ABC:

Gardasil, the vaccine designed to prevent cervical cancer is coming under fresh scrutiny amid thousands of complaints linking it to a range of health problems. Girls and women have blamed the vaccine for causing ailments from nausea to paralysis to even death.

15 deaths were reported to the FDA, and 10 were confirmed, but the CDC says none of the 10 were linked to the vaccine. The maker of the vaccine, Merck & Company incorporated says it has distributed more than 26 million gardasil vaccines worldwide, including nearly 16 million in the United States.

Merck says while it continues to evaluate reports of adverse reactions to the vaccine, it could just be a coincidence that some women have fallen ill after receiving the shot.

Many people who have really studied this vaccine are crying foul, saying it wasn't tested appropriately and should be taken off the market. How are we as parents supposed to know who to believe? Here are the past links on Gardasil that talk about the controversy.

Gardasil Vaccine Warning

New HPV Article

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

Methodist Medical Center's new online healthcare program, MyMethodist eHealth, is a proud sponsor of this blog post. MyMethodist eHealth is the secure link to your doctor's office that lets you request appointments, order prescription refills, update your personal health record, and more. Sign up for MyMethodist eHealth here.


Knight in Dragonland said...

Ten deaths were reported, but none were linked to the vaccine ... so what is the story here, exactly? said...

I thought it was interesting because we don't often hear about multiple cases of families saying their daughters died after being given a vaccine. I would hope there is no truth to this, but why are we hearing about this so much? The news feed sends down several stories like this one a week. It would be obnoxious to post them all. I am not sure what to think of it, but if I had a daughter, I would want to know as much as possible about these alledged incidents. There must be some reason why so many people are crying fowl? I am not sure what it is.

Knight-how often do you administer Gardasil? Have you seen any ill effects? Please let us know what you see in your office.

Billy Dennis said...

Kid: I agree. Because events follow another event, there is no reason to believe that these events were caused by the the preceding event.

In other words, anecdotes prove nothing.

Laura J. said...

So glad to see from other comments that people are thinking rationally and not giving in to hype. Even though stories keep saying "thousands" of adverse events have been reported(under 10,000), have to keep in mind that this is out of at least 16 million doses given. Reports mean nothing unless confirmed associations are made through more research. said...

This is from NewsAnchorMom reader Jennifer. She just wanted part of the comment posted and I couldn't figure out how to do that. Anyone know how?

Jennifer said:

As Dr. Dean Edell says "75% of people that die in a car accident had eaten fries in the last week" Does that mean fries caused the accident?

And whenever there's a death (from natural causes) within "x" amount of time of the vaccine, it has to be reported. It doesn't mean that one is related to another.

Shannon said...

Fundamentally, I think those who object to the Gardasil vaccine are worried about its rush to the market and are worried that politicians will add it to their state's "required" list of immunizations for public schools, and particularly that they will do so under intense lobbying pressure from deep-pocket pharmaceuticals. There are a lot of ethical and moral questions that raises - we're not talking about a generally communicable disease here. For some, the 8,000 reported adverse reactions are concerning, but also fuel for the fight. It's not so much about the vaccine itself as it is about the loss of a parents' right to make a medical decision for their children - and this one regarding a sexually transmitted disease. When my daughter is older and we know more about this vaccine, she can make the decision for herself about whether to get it. In the meantime, I will spend many sleepless nights worrying that someone is going to force my hand on a shot I don't feel comfortable with or ridicule me for not just trusting the medical-political world.

Knight in Dragonland said...

My practice is still a young one, so most of my patients are under 10. I'd say less than 20 of my patients have received the Gardasil vaccine. That will probably increase as the school physicals really start to roll in August. So far, I have not seen any adverse reactions, but I admit my numbers are limited.

I do make the girls wait in the waiting room for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine because of the reports of syncopal episodes (fainting). As I'm sure I've said before on this blog, a syncopal episode can be triggered anytime someone receives an injection or has blood drawn ... although I've personally never seen it happen with a vaccination or other intramuscular injection.

Waiting until young women are old enough to decide their own fate sounds great in an ideal world. However, in the real world the majority of young women are already sexually active by the time they turn 18. A small but frightening fraction are already sexually active by age 12 (thus the option to give the vaccine as young as 9, which disgustingly enough still might miss a few abused girls).

Not only can this vaccine prevent the majority of cervical cancers, but it could spare many more young women the pain of cervical biopsies and coning procedures that result from the abnormal Pap smears triggered by HPV infection. said...

Besides the adverse reactions controversy with Gardasil, I have had parents say to me "my daughter doesn't need the shot. She doesn't even have a boyfriend yet." Do any parents every say that to you and how do you respond?

Shannon said...

I never said my daughter would have to be 18 to make that decision for herself - I just said I would wait until she is old enough (read: mature enough) to decide for herself. That could be 12, it could be 16, it could be 18. Why do you assume I mean 18?

Also - it is my understanding (this info. from a local midwife) that the long-term efficacy of the shot is still unknown. So if you give it to an 11-year old girl and she does not become sexually active until she is say, 17 - that's six years and we don't know if the protection lasts that long.

Anonymous said...

My daughter just had her 2nd dose of the vaccine and she has had no side affects. After talking with our pediatrician Dr. Halperin we feel really confident in our decision. He is an awesome doctor and we trust him totally. She is only 11 has great Christian values so I am not worried about sexual activity. With cervical cancer running in our family this was something we thought about alot and did research. We have lost one child already and we will do whatever it takes to prevent anything from happening to our daughter. I think it is time we trust in our physicians, we are the parents taking them for physicals etc. If you don't trust your pediatrician to give you the advice you need then you should go somewhere else. We however feel a total trust with ours. said...

There are some good comments in this article. I will run this on the news at 5p.m. Thursday. I won't use your names!

SallyN said...

Well said Shannon.
'Anonymous' - I'm glad to hear you have confidence and trust in your pediatrician.
Jen- Reading this today, I'm glad I set my tivo to record the news every night now! ('course, I'll wait until my daughter is asleep to turn on the tv, haha.) :) said...

I just realized I have a story to do today and will be missing the 5pm show. I will see if we can put the segment on the 10pm instead!

Template by lollybloggerdesigns. Design by Taylor Johnston.